When Smith’s J first suits up as an agent of the extraterrestrial watchdog organization, he tells Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), “You know what the difference is between you and me? I make this look good.”
Franchise newcomer Thompson, who plays MiB rookie Agent M, steered clear of the line because of its nostalgic association with Smith.
“I wouldn’t have said it. In fact, I think someone did ask me to — just as an option — and I said no,” Thompson told THR with a laugh. “M is just different from that character [Agent J]. Yeah, I was really conscious of too much nostalgia. Also, inside of that, there were moments when I thought, ‘Let’s lean in.’”
Thompson stressed she was “really conscious of too much nostalgia” in the fourth Men in Black, a sequel-slash-spinoff set in the same universe as the Smith and Jones films but otherwise largely unconnected to Agent J and Agent K.
“To me, the reason to revisit older IP and franchises is if you have a really compelling reason. Sony had been wanting to make this movie for some years, and they had this seed of an idea: this young girl has an experience with an alien, and it changes her life,” Thompson said of her Molly, who grows MiB-obsessed after an early encounter with the organization.
“To be honest, one cool thing about revisiting films 22 years later is you get to make them with a modern sensibility — and I don’t mean better VFX, although that’s cool, too. I mean the modern sensibility now, and the time that we’re in, would allow for a woman like me to topline a studio film like this, and I think that’s impactful. It certainly introduces a whole new generation to it, a generation of young women and young boys, who get to follow a protagonist that looks like me. I think that means something. So, that was definitely a compelling reason, and I think it’s something new, fresh and not nostalgic. It just didn’t exist 20 years ago, and I’m happy that it does now.”
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rebecca Ferguson, Emma Thompson, and Liam Neeson, Men in Black: International is now playing.